31 Jul 5 Mistakes 21st Century Principals Must Avoid!
Many of my friends and colleagues around the world are getting ready for the start of the 2018/2019 school year.
Actually one of my very special friends is starting as a brand new 21st Century Principal today! She is very excited but also a little bit nervous. I bet you know just how she feels. As a Principal and Head of School with 20 years experience I have always loved the start of the new school year but it can be a very challenging time for new school leaders. Over the years I have learnt a great deal about school leadership; what works and what doesn’t.
Here are the Top 5 Mistakes that I’ve learnt to avoid over the years. I hope that they’re helpful for you.
- Everyone’s excited! It’s great to get back together with your team and talk about holidays, adventures and even disasters. Don’t make the mistake of complaining, gossiping or blaming. Read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles and take 100% responsibility for changing your school to meet the needs of 21st Century learners. Instead build a culture that is vision and mission aligned, inspire your team to dream and empower positive, can-do people to achieve those dreams.
- Don’t give your time away too freely. Reconsider the Open Door Policy! This was a great idea in the 20th Century, but it really doesn’t work today. Giving away your time willy-nilly to others means you are not in control of your time and you are not focusing on the school’s most important priorities. Instead make yourself available to your school community but do it strategically. Block out the times in your day and weekly calendar to focus on your Strategic Plan goals. NEVER cancel these times unless it is a real emergency. Schedule alternative times during the week for people to make appointments to see you if they feel the need. Also consider empowering others to solve their problems or come to you with a ‘suggested solution’ to discuss. Encouraging ‘power to’ rather than ‘power over’ is an awesome 21st Century Leadership skill. Remember, the school community depends on you being a strategist who is always focused on growing the school to best cater for Gen Z and Gen Alpha.
- Don’t make the mistake of meeting for the sake of having regular meetings. Plan meetings for a strategic purpose or to develop professional learning outcomes, not to disseminate information. Be creative and harness your entrepreneurial mindset. I created Collective Genius Meetups at my last school. We were all leaders at different times and discovered flexible and agile solutions to take our school forward. Your teachers will appreciate this and see you as a learner, which is so important in the 21st Century!
- Don’t focus on what is urgent. Basically this is crisis management and you need to stop doing it fast. Not only is this not showing leadership for your school, you will burn yourself and possibly others out. Focus on what is most important. Manage your distractions! Get organized, schedule your priorities, delegate, supervise, create a Stop Doing list and breathe. Arianna Huffington provides great advice in her book Thrive and so does Tony Crabbe in his book, Busy – How to Thrive in a World of Too much
- DO NOT worry about what you didn’t get done each day. Always focus on what you did get done and celebrate that. Only focus on 5 or 6 tasks each day and before going to sleep think of the 3 things you did get done and the 5 things you will focus on tomorrow. You will sleep much better if you do. Remember, if you did not achieve a high priority task reschedule it for the very next day, or the soonest available time, and make sure you get it done. Always Think Strategically and you will be an Awesome 21st Century Principal!
Want more tips on how to be an awesome 21st Century Principal? Why not attend Leadership for the 21st Century Workshop at NIST International School on 10 & 11 November 2018. It has had rave reviews and has helped hundreds of Principals, Aspiring Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, Team Leaders, Department Heads to meet the challenges of leading school in the 21st Century.
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